Initial findings from Indiana's Early Learning Advisory Committee show about two-thirds of Indiana parents need child care, but many rely on family and friends instead of registered providers. The group was created during the 2013 legislative session to provide yearly reports on early childhood education.

July 7, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. — Indiana's Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) has submitted its initial report of findings to Governor Mike Pence and the state’s Legislative Council.

The Early Learning Advisory Committee was created in legislation passed during the 2013 session, with a mandate to provide a comprehensive progress report on June 30 of each year. ELAC's vision focuses on the achievement of accessible, affordable, high quality early childhood experiences, particularly for at-risk Hoosier families. This initial ELAC report: 1) profiles Indiana's current situation in early childhood education; 2) outlines active steps underway to build on strengths and address gaps; and 3) provides recommendations informed by its work to date.

The ELAC report quantifies the need for child care by two-thirds of Indiana parents, but estimates at least 4 out of 10 still use informal care by neighbors or friends instead of registered providers. Affordability and availability of high quality slots in formal care is a factor for many low income families, as well.

“Access to an affordable, high quality early childhood education is critical for low income children,” said Kevin Bain, CEO of Welborn Baptist Foundation in Evansville and Chairman of ELAC. “That's why recent legislative initiatives to create pilots for low income families to access high quality care are so important. These pilots will demonstrate how to serve more at-risk families, and will evaluate the readiness of these 4-year olds for kindergarten and ongoing academic success.”

ELAC report recommendations also include addressing additional data needs for ages 0-8, linking that data with longitudinal tracking of academic performance and career readiness, and taking full advantage of appropriate federal grant opportunities to accelerate Indiana’s efforts.

“When Governor Pence appointed members of the ELAC in late September, 2013, his direction to us was to assess the opportunities and challenges Indiana faces in early education, and to recommend approaches to address both,” added Bain. “This report represents our best efforts to do that.”

Members of ELAC include:

• Alonzo Weems, Eli Lilly

• Tammy Veselsky, Traders Point Christian Academy

• Melanie Brizzi, Indiana FSSA, Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning

• Charlie Geier, Indiana Department of Education (IDOE)

• Beckie Minglin, Indiana FSSA, Head Start State Collaboration Office

• Connie Sherman, St. Mary's Child Center (Special advisor)

• John Burnett, Community Education Coalition (Special advisor)

ELAC's ongoing work is informed by the active participation of more than 120 volunteers across the state serving in 7 ELAC workgroups, addressing specific aspects of this work. The volunteers represent higher education, the business community, legislative and executive branch participants, providers, and state employees – all of whom will continue to provide input and expertise into advancing the cause of early childhood education in Indiana.

The complete report can be accessed at: http://www.in.gov/fssa/carefinder/4842.htm

Source: Family and Social Services Administration

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